Invests and partners with venture investor UP.Partners
Alaska Airlines announced today the launch of Alaska Star Ventures, its new investment arm targeting technologies that will help advance the airline’s net zero emissions goal.
The aviation industry has come under scrutiny as a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, responsible for 2-3% of global emissions, and one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize. Several initiatives are being pursued in order to address the climate impact of the industry, typically involving efforts to improve aircraft efficiency, develop sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), or create aircraft utilizing low or zero carbon propulsion systems such as electric or hydrogen-based.
Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci, said:
“To live our purpose and create an airline people love, we must operate every day in a way that cares for both people and the environment. To do that, we are seeking technologies that will accelerate our mission to build a more sustainable future for the aviation industry.”
The new investment fund follows the announcement earlier this year by Alaska Airlines of a series of sustainability commitments, including reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040, along with other waste and water-focused initiatives. The company also signed on to the Climate Pledge, joining a growing group of companies focused on reaching net zero by 2040. In order to reach its climate goals, the airline set out plans including helping to expand the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) market, and exploring and advancing novel propulsion approaches, such as the electrification of aviation.
The new venture will be led by Pasha Saleh, currently serving as Alaska Airlines’ Director of Flight Operations Strategy & Innovation.
Investing in mobility-focused venture investor UP.Partners
The company also said that it has partnered with mobility-focused venture investor UP.Partners for its inaugural investment. UP.Partners, founded by “serial aviation and technology entrepreneurs” Ben Marcus and Cyrus Sigari, announced on Monday the close of its inaugural $230 million early stage venture capital fund, focused on emerging technologies enabling cleaner, faster, safer and lower cost transport of people and goods. Investors in the fund included Alaska Air Group, ARK Invest Founder and CEO Cathie Wood, and Toyota subsidiary Woven Capital.
Cyrus Sigari, UP.Partners’ co-founder and Managing Partner, said:
“The future of aviation is a collaborative effort between founders, funders, builders and key stakeholders – like Alaska Airlines. With transportation as the underlying fabric of society, selective and values-driven investments that move the industry toward sustainable aviation are key. We’re proud to partner with such a mission-aligned group that is launching today: Alaska Star Ventures.”
Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability, added:
“We’re proud of our ambitious targets and our legacy of being pioneers, but we also know we can’t fundamentally decarbonize and achieve net zero carbon emissions alone. That’s why we’re focused on discovering, partnering with, and enabling technologies that will allow us to take real and meaningful steps on our five-part path to net zero now and in the years ahead. We’re thrilled to partner with UP.Partners on our first project and are fortunate to have aviation veteran Pasha Saleh leading corporate development to successfully launch and grow this initiative.”